Interior Minister brands HDP MP 'terrorist' for exposing practice of strip searches by police

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has branded HDP deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu a “terrorist” after the latter exposed the practice of strip searches by police. During the same speech, Soylu also referred to jailed former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş as a "terrorist," saying the ECHR's call for the prominent Kurdish politician's release is a "void decision."

This photo shows Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu addressing a meeting.

Duvar English

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has referred to Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu as a “terrorist” for exposing the practice of strip searches in police custody.

“The person who cast such an aspersion on the Turkish police is a rascal, dishonorable and low person, should they not prove it...Gergerlioğlu is a terrorist, a member of the FETÖ,” Soylu said on Dec. 24.

He said that he had previously filed several lawsuits against Gergerlioğlu on accusations that he was a member of FETÖ, an acronym used by the Turkish government in reference to the Gülen network.

“I here call on the judiciary. This man is really a terrorist. We have filed several lawsuits against him; do what is necessary,” Soylu said.

The minister's comments came after Gergerlioğlu last week brought up claims regarding strip searches of female detainees across Turkey.

The most recent report of a strip search was from the Aegean province of Uşak where a group of female detainees was searched naked, Gergerlioğlu said on Dec. 16.

After being targeted by Soylu on Dec. 24, Gergerlioğlu shared a video on Twitter.

“Why are they attacking me? Because I said the king is naked, because I said strip searches do occur, because I stand against sexual harassment towards women, men and children, and because the public is with me,” Gergerlioğlu said.

Meanwhile, DEVA Party deputy chair Mustafa Yeneroğlu, a former lawmaker with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), criticized Soylu for dismissing reports of strip-searching in police stations.

“Look at the level that our country has come to. The Interior Minister does not have the faintest idea about the legislation, as if he is mocking the nation, and on top of that, he is making insults and threats. Strip searching does exist in the legislation. Moreover, 167 people have been registered to have been battered for resisting against strip-searching this year,” Yeneroğlu tweeted.

Yeneroğlu also said that Soylu is the “biggest threat against the rule of law” as he is labeling a deputy as a “terrorist” without the existence of a court decision. “The Interior Minister, who is terrorizing the environment with his fascist tendencies, is the rulership's biggest shame,” Yeneroğlu said.

Soylu also calls Demirtaş a 'terrorist,' says ECHR's ruling a 'void decision'  

During his speech on Dec. 24, Soylu also branded jailed former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş a “terrorist,” saying he does not recognize the European Court of Human Rights' (ECHR) ruling on the prominent Kurdish politician.

“Demirtaş is a terrorist. The ECHR's ruling is a void decision. It does not have any meaning at all,” Soylu said.

The ECHR ruled on Dec. 22 that Demirtaş must be freed immediately, saying Turkey's justification for his detention longer than four years on terrorism-related offenses was a pretext for limiting political debate.

Opposition members and rights groups have accused the government of pressing the judiciary to silence the AKP's opponents, particularly since an attempted coup in July 2016.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling AKP have regularly denied such charges and said courts make independent decisions.